PVA Meeting Recap – June 25, 2015

Democratic Party Plans for GOTV

Liz Rodriguez-Johnson, chair of the Doña Ana Democratic Party, asked everyone to put the annual Democratic Labor Day Breakfast on their calendar. She said local Democrats are committed to a robust Get-Out-the-Vote effort and are inspired by the successful opposition to the recall initiative. They are currently working to fill all the party’s district offices.

Follow them on Facebook and check out the website. For more information send email to Liz and call her at 575-312-5677.

Must-See, Life-Changing Film

Dael Goodman recommended “The Salt of the Earth,” the story of the life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado. “It’s life-changing. See it,” she said.

The film will be shown at the Allen Theatres on July 8 as part of their “Wednesday Humpday” program. Netflix is another option.

For more information send email to Dael.

Bernie for President: Wear the Shirt

Cliff Pelton was sporting a sky blue “Bernie Sanders for President” t-shirt. “He’s a good man who follows through on everything he says. He does have a chance,” Cliff said.

For more information send email to Cliff.

A Thank You and Good News for Farm Workers

City Councilor Olga Pedroza expressed her thanks for all those who helped defeat the recall effort. She was thrilled to announce that the New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled that New Mexico farm and ranch laborers are entitled to workers compensation benefits. [Walt Rubel wrote about the case in the Sun-News on June 28. The opinion was written by Judge Monica Zamora, who has spoken at PVA in the past.]

For more information send email to Olga.

El Paso Electric Rate Hike Update

Allen Downs announced some news on the EPE rate case. Interveners to date include the U.S. Department of Defense, the New Mexico attorney general, the City of Las Cruces, One-Hour Air Conditioning (Rocky Baccus), and Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy. Doña Ana County has not yet intervened. The deadline for intervening is August 3. The City objects to the size of the hike and to the misleading manner in which the size of the hike is explained to the public.

For more information send email to Allen and call him at 575-915-6969.

Behavioral Health and More

County Commissioner Wayne Hancock began by explaining that the county commissioners have given direction to intervene in the EPE rate case. They are waiting for county staff to act on the directive; perhaps some citizen attention to the matter would get things rolling.

Wayne will attend a meeting to establish a strategic plan for behavioral health services throughout the state. The plan will have a big impact on services in southern New Mexico. Interested people should contact Wayne for details.

As chair of SCRTD (South Central Regional Transit District), Wayne announced that five new buses have been ordered. “Transit is on its way,” he promised.

Also noted: Glass recycling is booming, and the demand far exceeds the supply.

For more information send email to Wayne.

Conversations with Democrats

Merrie Lee Soules announced that the newly-organized Doña Ana County Federation of Democratic Women will sponsor “Conversations with Democrats” on the fourth Saturday of each month. They will invite a qualified guest to speak on a subject of current political interest and then facilitate a group conversation. The guest in June is Marcela Diaz, the executive director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido.

Immigration Myths and Facts
Saturday, June 27, 2 p.m.
Pho A Dong Restaurant
504 East Amador Avenue

For more information send email to Merrie Lee and call her at 575-635-2225.

Rep. Pearce Has New Idea for Obliterating Wolves

Jean Ossorio announced that Representative Pearce (along with Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona) is recruiting cosponsors for a new “lobo extinction bill.” The “Mexican Wolf Transparency and Accountability Act” would void the listing of the Mexican wolf as an endangered subspecies, vastly reduce the area they are allowed to roam, and prohibit lobos from being released from captivity into New Mexico.

Jean urged us to contact Pearce, share the information widely, and visit Lobos of the Southwest on Facebook for details. [Read Jean’s excellent letter in the Sun-News July 1.]

For more information send email to Jean and call her at 575-522-3112,

Veterans Democratic Council

John Vasquez is working to organize a local Veterans Democratic Council. He said that Republicans have labeled themselves the champions of veterans. He said they are enthusiastic about veterans when they are at war, but not so much when they return home. John said that 70% of all veterans are enlisted, and enlisted soldiers come from “Democratic homes.” He welcomed like-minded people to help him establish a Veterans Democratic Council in Doña Ana County.

For more information send email to John and call him at 575-494-3435.

Update from the County Assessor

Andy Segovia reported that the County Assessor’s office is reviewing several hundred property valuation protests. Everyone is encouraged to call the assessor’s office (575-647-7400) with questions about the process.

For more information send email to Andy.

Must Be a Better Way to Serve Mentally Ill in Southern New Mexico

Jack Eakman presented a slew of facts and figures about the plight of the mentally ill in Doña Ana County. The county lacks proper evaluation, treatment, and housing, and, as a result, the mentally ill are held at the detention center. The New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas is the only state owned and operated psychiatric hospital in New Mexico, and it is the only evaluation/treatment option for many mentally ill individuals in our community. We spend 12 million dollars a year sending people there. Jack suggested that a feasibility study is in order to determine if there is a better alternative. He asked that we contact our city and county representatives and ask them to invest in such a study.

For more information send email to Jack.

Support the Officials You Worked So Hard to Elect

County Commissioner Billy Garrett said attendance was good at the last two commission meetings. He spoke of the need for “broad, deep, continuing interest” in the work of government. “Be there. Speak up. It makes a difference,” he said. He went on to ask that we check the county website for future meeting agendas. Then show up and speak up for those issues you care about.

For more information send email to Billy.

Democratic Electric Light Parade Float Wants You

Paul Ponce said the Democratic float in the Electric Light Parade is going to be a pleasant surprise. You can let Paul know if you would like to ride on the float (there will be room for 20 to 30 people) or help with the finishing touches.

For more information send email to Paul.

Save this Date!

Cynthia Garrett invited everyone to attend a 95th birthday celebration for J. Paul Taylor.

Paul Taylor Birthday Celebration
Sunday, August 23, 4 to 6 p.m.
Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum

Join the Friends of the Taylor Family Monument and honor a man who has done–and is doing–so much for our community and our state.

For more information send email to Cynthia.

Rudy Martinez Pledges to Take Back District 39

Rudy Martinez, former District 39 Representative, said that it’s crucial for Democrats to take back the N.M. House in 2016. He reiterated the importance of every vote and asked people to start now to be sure that everyone in their circle of family and friends is registered and committed to voting.

For more information send email to Rudy and call him at 575-534-7546.

How to Cook a Frog EPE Style

Rocky Bacchus, an intervener in the El Paso Electric rate case, said that EPE is trying the old “how to cook a frog” trick on us—starting with a small rate increase that will skyrocket before we consumers realize what’s happening to us.

For more information call Rocky at 575-652-0010.

Check out PVA Calendar

Theresa Westbrock, chair of the PVA Executive Board, put in a good word for the PVA website calendar. Every event announced at tonight’s meeting will be posted on the website Friday morning. The posts include time, location, map, and who to contact for more information. Furthermore, with a simple click of the mouse, you can subscribe to the calendar so all the events appear on any or all of your devices.

For more information send email to Theresa.

Comprehensive Plans Have Consequences

Sharon Thomas stressed the importance of passing the comprehensive plan for the county and the companion unified development code. She explained that the plan lays out the goals and priorities and the code is all about implementation. “Come to the meetings,” she exhorted, “and help get this passed.”

For more information send email to Sharon and call her at 575-644-2517.

Rep. Pearce Does a Solid

Bob Diven has been building a small airplane that he intends to fly. Out of the blue and inexplicably, the FAA denied his medical clearance and would not renew his pilot’s license. Bob filed a protest with the FAA, thus embarking on an “opaque, lengthy, frustrating process.” Finally, he thought of appealing to his congressman, Steve Pearce, who is, like Bob, a veteran and a pilot. Bob wondered if Pearce had seen his editorial cartoons or read any of his many letters on points of disagreement. Nevertheless, he made his request—constituent to representative. With no further rigmarole or red tape, Bob’s pilot’s license was reissued. Moral to the story: “A citizen can still get assistance from an elected official when a federal agency is behaving badly.”

You can help make the dream of AdobeHenge a reality by liking the proposal on Facebook and inviting your friends to do the same.

For more information send email to Bob.

Governor’s Special Session Brings Help to Doña Ana County

Representative Jeff Steinborn said of the local effort to recall three city councilors: “Hopefully it’s done.” He issued a special thanks to Don Kurtz for his vision and leadership of the grassroots effort to defeat the recall.

With regard to the special capitol outlay session, Jeff said political pressure caused the governor to relent and come back to the table. The beneficiaries in Doña Ana County include senior centers, higher education, roads and other infrastructure, St. Luke’s Health Clinic, and La Clinica’s new facility. Police will get body cams and economic development plans will be funded.

For more information call Jeff at 575-635-5615.

NM State Auditor Has a Hot Line

State Auditor Tim Keller was last at PVA as a campaigner. He said that now that he’s been elected, he’s doing exactly what he campaigned on. His office is working on the problem of money ($4.5 billion) appropriated for projects that never happened. They will be issuing “financial health report cards” for various public offices. The auditor’s office has a hotline that you can call if you suspect the misuse of public dollars: 1-866-OSA-FRAUD.

For more information send email to Tim and call him at 505-400-0415.

Summer Party

The meeting was followed by the eleventh(!) annual PVA summer party, held at St. Clair Winery and Bistro in Mesilla. We take a break in July.

PVA Meets Again
Thursday, August 27, 7 p.m.
Munson Center


 

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